Thursday, 20 May 2010

Iron Maiden 'Can I Play With Madness?'

Chart Peak: 3


Sometimes when I notice connections between consecutive tracks on a Now! album, I find myself wondering whether there's a deliberate in-joke in the sequencing. And so it is here, since this doesn't seem an obvious sequel to that previous track (or, admittedly, any of the others) except that of course Woody Woodgate, the drummer from Voice Of The Beehive, did play with Madness throughout their career (and has indeed resumed doing so since).

'Can I Play With Madness' is, according to people who know more about Iron Maiden than I do, a bit of a departure from their earlier work. The album Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (aptly enough, their seventh LP) was their first attempt at a concept album and apparently also features synthesisers, though I've never been able to hear them on this particular track. However, it does sound like an attempt to reach out to a wider audience, with a relatively conventional structure and a compact running time of three-and-a-half minutes. Bruce Dickinson even bellows the title of the song at the start and end to grab your attention and make sure you know what to look for in Woolworths. They even brought in Graham Chapman for the video, which must have been one of his last professional engagements before he died. I don't know how established fans felt about it, but it paid off as the single entered at 4 (only their second ever Top 10 appearance) and climbed in its second week; I'm guessing the picture disc was only released in that week or something. The album itself topped the chart and spawned a further three Top 10 hits and of course most of their material for the next couple of decades did similarly well, though they never showed up on another Now album.

For all that though, it's a record I find it slightly hard to engage with in any way. I don't hate it but I don't really like it either. I suppose I have some sort of respect for it, and it's certainly different from anything else on here.

Available on: Somewhere Back in Time: the Best of: 1980-1989

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